I still remember waking up at around 5am in the morning in order to watch the first ever day-night test match between Australia and New Zealand. Test cricket is undoubtedly the true essence of the game of cricket. I remember watching the video footage of a game played during the 1970’s between India and England at Lord’s, the great cathedral of the game of cricket. I remember watching Sunil Gavaskar walking out to open the innings for India. There was a unique sort of charm in Sunny’s batting. The orthodox pulls and hooks along with some expansive cover-drives, Gavaskar’s batting used to be studded by some of the finest textbook strokes. As the red cherry swung there in England, Sunil Gavaskar’s bat was no less effective.
Well, a good game of test cricket is pretty much like a bar of Cadbury’s Bourneville, the fine dark chocolate. The reason I’m this is: each and every ball of a test match is savored just like a delicious piece of dark chocolate. I mean, you don’t just start stuffing your mouth with pieces of dark chocolate. You savor the taste of it slowly and gradually. Similarly, various ups and downs in a test match are also savored.
A game of test cricket consists of 5 mouth wateringly delicious days of high voltage action. To be very honest, nothing, absolutely nothing can overpower and subdue the sensory pleasures of Test Cricket. It’s so languorous and ultimately, it’s rewarding. I really enjoy watching test cricket when wickets fall in a heap.
Let me just try & explain you the sheer pleasure I get when I watch test match cricket. There was a test match played between Australia & India way back in the winter of 2003 during India’s tour down under. It was the 2nd test match in a series of 4. The first test match at Brisbane had ended in a draw. The Adelaide Oval was all set to witness a mouth-watering run-fest. Australia, after winning the toss, elected to bat first on a pitch that was believed to be a graveyard for the bowlers. Aussies piled up 556 in their first innings courtesy of skipper Ricky Ponting’s majestic 242.
The innings was studded with an array of elegant strokes. Right from the classical hooks and the pulls to the breath-taking cover drives through extra cover. Ponting’s innings kept on flowing like a river, completely untouched by the sorrows and miseries of the Indian bowlers.
The innings was studded with an array of elegant strokes. Right from the classical hooks and the pulls to the breath-taking cover drives through extra cover. The Indian side had a daunting task on their hands.
The Indians were reduced to 85 for four. A defeat was certainly there on the cards and the Indian side was staring down the barrel. In walked VVS Laxman and giving him company at the other end was his partner from down South, Rahul Dravid. What followed the Indian top order’s misery with the bat on day 2 was a charismatic partnership between Dravid and Laxman.
The partnership helped the Indian side get out precarious waters. Both the batsmen strtched a 303 run partnership for the 5th wicket. Laxman scored 148 runs before edging a delivery right into the hands of Adam Gilchrist, the Aussie wicket-keeper. Dravid, on the other hand, scored a fabulous double-century(233). India ended their 1st innings on 523, 33 runs short of Australia’s 1st innings total of 556.
What followed India’s brilliant fightback in the first innings was a fabulous display of bowling masterclass by Ajit Agarkar. The highly underrated seamer from Delhi ripped through the formidable Australian batting order and ended with figures of 6/41. The Aussies were bundled out cheaply for 196 inside 60 overs with Agarkar doing the bulk of the damage.
The Indian side chased down a not so modest total of 230 with 4 wickets in hand. The run-chase was anchored by Rahul Dravid. Dravid and Laxman, with the able support of the Indian seamer Ajit Agarkar, helped in scripting one of the most memorable victories for Indian on Australian soil.
Citing the example given above, I can afford to say that test cricket provides the sternest examination of a cricketer’s skills and temperament. Youngsters agree that everything in the game of cricket boils down to test cricket.
Test Cricket demands too much commitment from a generation that seems to be too keen on the entire idea of using abbreviations. An average viewer like you and me runs after the thrills and spills of Twenty20 cricket. Twenty20 is where the money lies and that is why the players are choosing Twenty20 over Test Cricket.
To abandon Test Cricket would not only be sad but suicidal and short-sighted. Twenty20 is only a fling. Those casual cricket fans, those who watch cricket just for the sake of getting some badly needed entertainment, I’d like to advice them to go and watch a movie instead. Find some other productive ways of getting entertained. Let Test Cricket flourish.
The sheer delight of watching the red cherry swing under incredibly gray skies in England is something that can’t be described in words. For Test Cricket to revive its stature and charm, we need men with vision and a sense of mission as well. It requires ownership and investment. Well, someone needs to turn into Kerry Packer here…..